With Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera both on the shelf with various injuries, it’s up to Matt Reynolds to take charge of the shortstop position. The rookie was called up last season during the playoffs as insurance, after Ruben Tejada had his leg broken by Chase Utley. And this year, he has had first a bench role and now a starter, as the other infielders are on the mend. Last week at Yankee Stadium, NY Sports Day sat down with the Reynolds.
NY Sports Day: When did you start playing baseball when you were a kid?
Matt Reynolds: I was playing baseball as long as I am can remember. I played for my dad on a tee-ball team. We were called the Tulsa Smashers. And my first real team was called the Orange Power Rangers. I’ve been playing baseball ever since I was a little kid and I loved it ever since.
NYSD: What was your reaction when you were first drafted by the Mets?
MR: I was excited. I was hoping I would get drafted and I ended up getting drafted pretty high. Getting drafted to New York is exciting, because it’s a big city. If you can play in New York, you can play pretty much everywhere. I was excited about that and excited to begin my career.
NYSD: What was your reaction last year, when you were called up to replace Ruben Tejada on the postseason roster?
MR: I was not exactly shocked, but I was more or less excited to experience playoff baseball. You can go your whole career and not get to go to the playoffs. For my first experience to be playoff baseball is incredible.
NYSD: You had a tough start, but then you got in the swing of things with lefthanded pitching. Were you always good at hitting lefties?
MR: I feel good against both. I go through stretches where I do well against righties. It’s not a everyday thing, but I always felt good against lefties and I had some success so far.
NYSD: Terry Collins put you in left field a couple of time. How comfortable are you in the outfield?
MR: When I played against the Royals, that was my first pro-ball game in the outfield. I was a little bit uncomfortable, but I knew I could do it. When I was optioned back to Triple-A, I played more in the outfield. I was playing twice a week in left field. So I feel comfortable now.
NYSD: What is the toughest thing about playing the outfield?
MR: I would stay just staying mentally in it. When you are playing infield, you are in every play. In left field, there is not much of it, so you have to stay mentally in it.
NYSD: What was your favorite team growing up?
MR: The Yankees. (He smiled.)
NYSD: This is your first Subway Series, are you excited?
MR: It’s pretty cool. I was talking to (Michael) Conforto about it yesterday. It’s weird being on the same field of people you saw when you were growing up, like A-Rod. I was a huge Derek Jeter fan growing up. So playing on same field of some of the people you grew up idolizing, is just surreal.
NYSD: Is this your first visit to Yankee Stadium?
MR: Yeah. I went outside and took pictures and also went to (Monument Park). It was awesome.
NYSD: What made you into a Yankee Fan?
MR: Derek Jeter. He wasn’t very flashy and he went about his business like a man. He was a perfect idol for a young kid to see how to play the game and how not to play the game. I grew up watching him with my dad and I just wanted to be like him.
NYSD: Is that why you are a shortstop?
MR: I don’t know if that’s why I’m a shortstop, but it had a part to do with it. I liked that position and I idolized him. It went hand-in-hand.
NYSD: Favorite movies?
MR: Not that big of a movie guy. I don’t go to the theaters a lot. I don’t wait for them to come out of DVD. TV and movies , I don’t watch them.
NYSD: So you are not a Game of Thrones fan like Syndergaard?
MR: I was told I have to start that, but I’m a little afraid. I don’t want to be a couch potato. I think I need to start it. Normally in the winter, I would start watching a show.
NYSD: Biggest difference from the majors and in the minors?
MR: On the field, you really have to play with adrenaline. In the minors you play with heart. You don’t get big crowds. You don’t get big stadiums. You have to play from within. Here, if you don’t really feel your best, the crowd energizes you and you can get a boost from them.
NYSD: How about hitting-wise?
MR: Biggest adjustment is you have to be selective, because all these guys up here have good stuff. So you really have to be selective with what you swing at. Everyone throws hard and you have to be ready for the fastball.
NYSD: You switched to 15 this year. Any reason?
MR: That was the number I was given. I wore 5 in college.
NYSD: You can’t have that here.
MR: Yeah, I know. I kind of realized I would never get that number. The clubbies here gave me a number with a 5. It’s nice of them.